Renovation made memorable

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Brent Whitley, pictured above, placed a time capsule into an area that was sealed against time during the expansion and renovation construction underway at the Whitley's Pharmacy, located on the historic downtown square in Cassville. Brent is the son of Blake and Debbie Whitley, owners of Whitley's Pharmacy. The Whitley's purchased an adjoining building and have incorporated much of the historic flavor into the project.

What would you put in a time capsule?

That question was recently put to Debbie Whitley, wife of Blake Whitley, owners of Whitley's Pharmacy in Cassville, along with the challenge of having two hours to complete the mission because the space to hold the contents would soon be closed forever.

Debbie set about collecting things that would reflect the significance of the day. Items included photos of family members, the work crew that is expanding the business and the faithful employees who are more like family, a gold dollar coin from Silver Dollar City and a horseshoe from the family's horse ranch. Other documentation included photocopies of newspaper articles and copies of the Cassville Democrat and the Barry County Advertiser bearing the day's date, as well as papers detailing the historic significance of the building and its place in Cassville's history.

"I had just a short while to collect the things that were going into the time capsule," Debbie said. "They were wanting to seal the area up that same day."

The time capsule, which was the idea of Bud Lowe, hired to complete the reconstruction work, is located in a boxed-in wooden area that was built against what used to be the outer wall of the pharmacy. Workers cleared the walls and siding from an adjoining building, revealing the sign "Murphy's Remedies For Sale Here." The boxed-in portion containing the time capsule sits immediately below that sign.

"We were able to keep the 'Remedies Sold Here' portion of the wall," said Debbie. "That seems so appropriate."

The old brick wall has been restored and sealed and has now become a part if the new interior's decor.

"Blake is a history buff," said Debbie Whitley. "He reads history books all the time."

And keeping a portion of Cassville's history is important to the Whitleys.

"There is also an old cistern in the back of the store," Blake added. "We have kept it intact. I've been told that people coming to the pharmacy used to water their horses back there in the late 1800s and early 1900s."

Once what is now Westco Furniture moved in, the back door of the pharmacy building was sealed off by a brick wall, but the 20-foot cistern remains.

Bricks from the dismantled building were incorporated into the renovation's archways, separating the pharmacy from what will be the gift and home decor portion of the business.

Surprisingly, this is the second time capsule to be included in the reconstruction process.

According to members of the work crew, one of the construction workers took an empty Skoal can, tossed in a quarter and a couple of other items and sealed it into a wall at the back of the building earlier on in the project.

The Whitleys' son, Brent, had been documenting progress on the construction on nearly a daily basis with a new Nikon 12 megapixel camera he saved his allowance for and bought himself.

"He's constantly taking photos of the construction crew and the work they're doing," said Debbie. "I felt it was important to include not only the family, but the employees. They are what makes this business and this community."

The renovations at Whitley's are just one step toward what Debbie hopes is a renovation explosion around Cassville's historic downtown square.

"The attorney's office has remodeled, the abstract office looks nice," she said. "I hope others take a look at their buildings and incorporate that same historic element into their places should they decide to renovate.

"This will not only improve our businesses but our community," she continued. "I hope this helps revitalize and strengthen the downtown area."

The Whitleys and their employees are anxious for the work to be completed but also know that any work of art, even the architectural kind, takes time.

Workers were spending the morning completing a bricked arch above one of the new entrances to the expansion that bears the name "Whitley's" and a brick replica of the registered brand used at the ranch.

"It was supposed to be a surprise for Blake, but he wouldn't keep out of here," Debbie said. "But I think it will be really nice when it's done."

In the meantime, the Whitleys are happy to be expanding their business and living their dream.

"Although we have wanted to buy the building [next door] and do this for awhile now, we had to wait for the right time," Debbie said. "It happened in God's time, and we have been very blessed."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: